Category Archives: Missiles & Guided Weapons

Bulgaria selects AMRAAM

Bulgaria became the world’s 40th Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missile (AMRAAM) user when the European nation recently signed an agreement to purchase the missile from the U.S. Air Force through a foreign military sales contract. This letter of offer and acceptance allows the U.S. government to begin contract negotiations with Raytheon Missiles & Defense, a Raytheon Technologies business, for production of an undisclosed quantity of missiles.

AMRAAM
Bulgaria selects AMRAAM missile to bolster its air-to-air defense capabilities

«AMRAAM delivers unprecedented air superiority to pilots, giving them a decisive advantage in the sky», said Paul Ferraro, vice president of Raytheon Missiles & Defense’s Air Power business. «The weapon will significantly improve Bulgaria’s ability to defend against advanced threats».

The AMRAAM is a dual-role missile, offering operational flexibility in air-to-air and surface-launch engagements. In the air-to-air role, the weapon’s advanced active guidance section and mature seeker design allow it to quickly find targets in the most challenging environments.

AMRAAM is the world’s most sophisticated, combat-proven air dominance missile. With more than 30 years of design, upgrades, testing and production, the AIM-120 missile continues to meet warfighter requirements in all weather and beyond visual range engagements. Its capabilities have been fully demonstrated in over 4,800 test shots and more than 10 air-to-air combat victories.

Strategic Deterrent

Northrop Grumman Corporation (NOC) was selected by the U.S. Air Force to modernize the nation’s aging InterContinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) system under a $13.3 billion contract awarded on September 08, 2020 for the Engineering and Manufacturing Development (EMD) phase of the Ground Based Strategic Deterrent (GBSD) program.

Northrop Grumman will lead a nationwide team to deliver the Ground Based Strategic Deterrent program

The Air Force Nuclear Weapons Center announced that the effort will span 8.5 years and include weapon system design, qualification, test and evaluation and nuclear certification. Upon successful completion of EMD, the Northrop Grumman team will begin producing and delivering a modern and fully integrated weapon system to meet the Air Force schedule of initial operational capability by 2029.

«Our nation is facing a rapidly evolving threat environment and protecting our citizens with a modern strategic deterrent capability has never been more critical», said Kathy Warden, chairman, chief executive officer and president, Northrop Grumman. «With more than 65 years of technical leadership on every ICBM system, our nationwide team is honored and committed to continuing our partnership with the U.S. Air Force to deliver a safe, secure and effective system that will contribute to global stability for years to come».

The EMD award follows a highly successful three-year Technology Maturation and Risk Reduction (TMRR) phase-one effort under the GBSD competition. The Northrop Grumman team has demonstrated innovation and agility by applying a digital engineering approach and has achieved all TMRR design review milestones on time and on cost.

Work on the program will be performed at the Northrop Grumman GBSD facilities in Roy and Promontory, Utah, as well as other key Northrop Grumman sites across the U.S. that include Huntsville and Montgomery, Alabama; Colorado Springs, Colorado; Bellevue, Nebraska; San Diego and Woodland Hills, California; Chandler, Arizona; Annapolis Junction, Maryland; and at our nationwide team locations across the country.

The Northrop Grumman GBSD team includes Aerojet Rocketdyne, Bechtel, Clark Construction, Collins Aerospace, General Dynamics, HDT Global, Honeywell, Kratos Defense and Security Solutions, L3Harris, Lockheed Martin, Textron Systems, as well as hundreds of small and medium-sized companies from across the defense, engineering and construction industries. Overall, the GBSD program will involve over 10,000 people across the U.S. directly working on this vital national security program. For more information, please visit: www.northropgrumman.com/gbsd.

Northrop Grumman solves the toughest problems in space, aeronautics, defense and cyberspace to meet the ever evolving needs of our customers worldwide. Our 90,000 employees define possible every day using science, technology and engineering to create and deliver advanced systems, products and services.

Gray Wolf

The 416th Flight Test Squadron recently completed a round of tests of the Air Force Research Laboratory’s «Gray Wolf» prototype cruise missile at Edwards Air Force Base, California.

Members from the Gray Wolf test team and 416th Flight Test Squadron, pose for a photo following a captive-carry flight test of the Gray Wolf cruise missile prototype at Edwards Air Force Base, California, June 9 (Air Force photo by Kyle Brazier)

Gray Wolf is a DoD-directed prototype production and demonstration of low-cost, subsonic and networked collaborative cruise missiles. The missiles are designed to launch in a swarm to target enemy integrated air defense threats.

«Gray Wolf is a science & technology demonstration effort, intended as a proof of concept program», said Conor Most, 416th FLTS Flight Test Engineer. «AFRL serves as the System Program Office (SPO) for the weapon and developed the original request for proposal».

The missiles offer a stand-off solution for the warfighter through its variable payload capability. Earlier this year, the Gray Wolf’s TDI-J85 engine completed a successful flight test campaign culminating in multiple inflight windmill starts and operation at high altitude.

The program has already reached certain test milestones: Electromagnetic Interference & Compatibility (EMIC) and a «captive carry» flight. A live release test at the Naval Air Station Point Mugu Sea Test Range is scheduled later this summer.

«The EMIC check is ground check to confirm the missile is okay to fly on our specific test aircraft», Most explained. «A captive-carry flight is the first flight with the weapon; the goal is to rehearse the weapon flight profile and gather critical state/environmental data about the weapon».

Most added that the importance of successfully conducting physical tests, as opposed to laboratory-simulated, provides the Gray Wolf team with invaluable critical data.

«Getting the weapon airborne and gathering data is crucial to the development for a new weapon system like this», Most said. «With just one captive carry flight, the team learned more than in weeks or months of laboratory testing. Modeling and simulation go a long way to helping you predict how a new weapon will behave, but they will never replace actually putting the weapon on an aircraft and observing how it actually behaves in a real-world environment».

Conducting physical flight tests is critical to mission success, and the Gray Wolf test team faced challenges amidst COVID-19 restrictions as different portions of the test team were located throughout the country. Besides the test team at Edwards, the Gray Wolf tests included personnel from AFRL, Point Mugu, and others throughout the Air Force Test Center enterprise, namely at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida.

«Key support from AFRL and AFTC leadership enabled the missions to take place», said Captain Adam Corley, AFRL Gray Wolf Program Manager. «These tests overcame, and were accomplished, during the COVID-19 posture. Collaboration between Eglin, Edwards, and the Point Mugu Sea Range made these flight tests possible. Through close partnership, we were able to fly on the sea range and stream live feeds to Edwards and Eglin control rooms overcoming the travel ban issue and allowing key personnel to participate in the flight tests».

Beyond-Line-Of-Sight

MBDA is joining with 13 partners and subcontractors from 5 countries to develop a new capability based on the MMP missile system (Missile Moyenne Portée, Medium-Range Missile) that will be unique for mounted and dismounted forces.

MBDA’s MMP missile selected to fulfill the European Beyond-Line-Of-Sight battlefield engagement capability

LynkEUs, an MBDA coordinated project, has been selected by the European Commission as part of the new European Defence Industrial Development Programme (EDIDP), following consultation with Member States.

LynkEUs is the first technological and industrial contribution to the objectives of the Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO) Beyond Line Of Sight (BLOS) capability project. The BLOS capability project had been approved in November 2018 by the EU Defence Ministers.

The LynkEUs project is managed in close partnership with the French, Belgian and Cypriot armed forces. The project seeks to define an initial operational concept for a European BLOS capability. It will also provide an opportunity to identify and test emerging solutions of potential value for future upgrades to the capability, and will be validated by a test campaign.

The concepts and tests completed for the PESCO BLOS project will contribute to the development of a family of man-on-the loop BLOS missile systems with back image, based on the MMP medium range missile, and under full control of Europe’s defence industry.

Eric Béranger, MBDA CEO, said: «LynkEUs is the first cooperative project in the missile systems field leveraging on the new EU defence instruments, and the first EU defence R&D project to be coordinated by MBDA. It demonstrates our eagerness to cooperate to an ever-greater extent in Europe and to expand our circle of industrial and technological partnerships, particularly with innovative SMEs and European research centres. It also demonstrates our commitment to serve European strategic autonomy and technological sovereignty ambitions».

MBDA and its 10 partners – from Belgium: The Royal Military Academy, John Cockerill Defense, FN Herstal, Thales Belgium, and Xenics; from Cyprus: Aditess, Cyprus Institute, and SignalGenerix; from France: Novadem and Safran; along with the 3 subcontractors: MILREM (from Estonia), DELAIR (from France), and Carmenta (from Sweden) – are now entering the negotiation phase of the grant agreement with the Commission.

This first success at the European level paves the way for further collaborative projects, that will consolidate a European BLOS capability by developing associated functions such as training systems and cooperative engagement. These new projects could be eligible for the future European Defence Fund as early as 2021.

Air Defence Systems

On June 19 the NASAMS (National Advanced Surface to Air Missile System) medium-range air defence systems procured from Norway were delivered to the Air Defence Battalion of the Lithuanian Armed Forces. The modern air defence equipment will provide the Lithuanian Air Force with a several tens of kilometres effective range capability.

NASAMS medium-range air defence systems delivered to the Lithuanian Air Force

«Arrival of the systems has made the Lithuanian air defence stronger and contributes to further strengthening of deterrence. If we link together all elements of the defence system, we get good results that will make potential aggressor think twice, and consequently give us more security and discretion», Chief of Defence of Lithuania Lieutenant General Valdemaras Rupšys says.

NASAMS is the most widely used mid-range air defence system in NATO member states, and even for guarding the airspace over the White House. Lithuania has acquired the most recent, their generation, NASAMS 3, its current users are still only the Lithuanian Armed Forces and the Armed Forces of Norway, the manufacturer.

The procured NASAMS systems comprise many components – fire control centres, missile launchers, communications equipment, etc. Lithuania also upgraded the RBS70 short-range air defence systems it has been using, both systems will be integrated to form an overall Lithuanian airspace defence shield.

Training of qualified personnel for work with the new equipment began in Norway in the end of last year according to methodology and programs developed by the Norwegian Armed Forces and Kongsberg Defence & Aerospace. Further training will be carried in Lithuania by Norwegian professionals on the ground, in the Air Defence Battalion. The personnel are planned to be fully trained by 2021 and integration of the systems into the NATO Integrated Air and Missile Defence System (NATINAMDS) will begin.

Anti-Radiation Missile

The U.S. Navy completed the first captive carry flight test of an Advanced Anti-Radiation Guided Missile – Extended Range (AARGM-ER) missile on an F/A-18 Super Hornet June 1 at the Patuxent River test range.

The U.S. Navy conducts the first captive carry flight test of an Advanced Anti-Radiation Guided Missile – Extended Range (AARGM-ER) missile on an F/A-18 Super Hornet June 1 at the Naval Air Station Patuxent River test range in Maryland (U.S. Navy photo)

During the test, the F/A-18 Super Hornet conducted a series of aerial maneuvers in order to evaluate integration and structural characteristics of the AARGM-ER. Test points were completed across a range of flight conditions to demonstrate carriage compatibility of AARGM-ER with the F/A-18 Super Hornet.

«This first flight represents a significant step in the AARGM-ER Engineering and Manufacturing Development phase», said Captain Mitch Commerford, who oversees the Direct and Time Sensitive Strike program office (PMA-242). «Data collected from this testing will inform the planned build-up and overall expansion of flight testing with AARGM-ER».

Testing will continue over the next few years in preparation for initial operational capability in fiscal year 2023, he said.

The extended range variant, which leverages the AARGM program that’s currently in full rate production, has been upgraded with a new rocket motor and warhead. It will provide advanced capability to detect and engage enemy air defense systems.

AARGM-ER is being integrated on the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet and EA-18G Growler, and will also be compatible for integration on the F-35A/B/C Lightning II.

Laser-Guided Rockets

BAE Systems successfully completed test shots of its Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System (APKWS) laser-guided rockets from a tactical configuration ground-based weapon system for the first time. The proof-of-concept testing demonstrated the flexibility of APKWS rockets to deliver standoff precision strike capabilities for ground forces, providing warfighters with a unique solution for engaging targets with greater range than small arms fire and without the need for air support.

BAE Systems successfully completed test shots of its APKWS laser-guided rockets from a tactical configuration ground-based weapon system for the first time

BAE Systems tested the APKWS rockets at the U.S. Army’s Yuma Proving Ground, in collaboration with the U.S. Navy and Arnold Defense, a premier manufacturer of rocket launchers. The team used Arnold’s FLETCHER 2.75-inch/70-mm Weapon System concept – a purpose-built laser-guided rocket launcher for ground vehicles – to fire several successful shots. The ground-launch capability builds on hundreds of successful shots in combat from rotary- and fixed-wing aircraft.

«Our customers see the value in low-cost, precision-strike capabilities that reduce the risk of collateral damage, and they want the flexibility to deliver them from the platform of their choice», said Greg Procopio, director of Precision Guidance and Sensing Solutions at BAE Systems. «Demand is growing for ground-to-ground precision munitions that provide a safe standoff distance for small ground units. We’re working closely with our customer and partners to deliver that capability».

Ground-launched APKWS rockets could provide mounted and dismounted units with a unique way to engage soft and lightly armored targets from a variety of platforms. The low size, weight, and power requirements of ground-launched APKWS rockets make them ideal for tactical lightweight vehicles, remote weapon stations, non-standard tactical vehicles, and stationary platforms, providing warfighters with precision munitions that improve their safety and mission effectiveness.

«We designed FLETCHER specifically as a ground launcher for precision-guided 70-mm rockets», said Jim Hager, president and CEO at Arnold Defense. «FLETCHER-launched APKWS rockets enable our military customers to engage targets from more than just airborne platforms. We envision FLETCHER being used on everything from trucks and tracked vehicles to marine platforms in the future».

APKWS laser-guided rockets are the only U.S. government program of record for precision-guided 70-milimeter rockets. All four U.S. armed forces use APKWS rockets, and it is available to U.S. allies via Foreign Military Sales. FMS activities support more than a dozen partner nations and interest from other nations.

BAE Systems’ long range precision fires solutions use advanced technologies to consistently and effectively hit a variety of targets in complex environments from long distances, resulting in successful land, air and sea missions.

Multirole Missile

Leonardo and Thales are proud to announce the first successful firings of the Thales ‘Martlet’ Lightweight Multirole Missile (LMM) from Leonardo’s AW159 Wildcat helicopter. The firings were conducted as part of the UK MoD’s Future Anti-Surface Guided Weapon (FASGW) programme and demonstrated the integration of the Martlet onto the AW159 platform. This represents a major milestone for the programme and will enable this high-end capability to enter service with the Royal Navy later this year.

The Royal Navy’s AW159 Wildcat will pack a lot of firepower, as it is able to carry up to 20 Thales Martlet lightweight missiles primarily intended to defend against attacking small boats, as well as two Sea Venom anti-ship missiles for offensive missions (Royal Navy photo)

The firing trials were conducted from 27th April to 21st May 2020 and despite the current COVID-19 situation, Leonardo and Thales were able to support the UK Ministry of Defence by completing this critical activity. All of the teams involved had to adopt strict distancing procedures, in some cases having to find new ways of working, in order to make sure that the trials could go ahead. It is a testimony to the professionalism of those involved that these trials were successfully completed under such challenging and novel circumstances.

«This major milestone demonstrates that the combination of the AW159 Wildcat and Martlet missile will be a flexible and effective tool for the Royal Navy. Next year the Wildcat fleet will embark on Carrier Strike Group missions with HMS Queen Elizabeth (R08) on its maiden operational deployment. As the only British company to design and manufacture helicopters on-shore, we’re extremely proud to be equipping the UK Armed Forces with world-beating sovereign capabilities», said Nick Whitney, Managing Director of Leonardo Helicopters (UK).

«The successful live firings of the Thales LMM Martlet from the AW159 Wildcat is a key milestone in the programme, delivering a significant step-change in capability for the platform. LMM Martlet will ensure that the Wildcat has the best-in-class offensive capability to protect HMS Queen Elizabeth (R08) and her task group during her maiden operational deployment next year. With each platform capable of carrying up to 20 Martlet, the Wildcats deployed with the task group will be a significant deterrent to anyone wishing to interfere with UK interests», said Philip McBride, General Manager, Integrated Airspace-protection Systems, Thales UK.

In July 2014, Leonardo signed a contract with the UK Ministry of Defence to integrate, test and install the MBDA Sea Venom (heavy) and Thales LMM (light) missile systems onto Royal Navy AW159 Wildcat helicopters, a programme called Future Anti Surface Guided Weapon (FASGW).

The FASGW (light) part of the programme has now seen the LMM, with its associated launcher and airborne laser guidance unit, successfully integrated into the Leonardo AW159 Wildcat sensor, displays and avionics systems. The LMM provides a step-change in capability for the Royal Navy which, in the maritime environment, faces a major challenge in engaging smaller, fast-moving, asymmetric threats, due to their high mobility, their small thermal and radar signatures and the severe background clutter encountered. The LMM is capable of surmounting these issues where traditional electro-optic and radar guidance systems do not provide the certainty of hit required.

On-board the AW159 Wildcat platform, the LMM Martlet could also allow operators to engage air targets such as UAVs and other maritime helicopters.

The launchers are mounted to the AW159 via the new Leonardo Weapon Wing, developed at the Company’s design and manufacturing facility in Yeovil and first trialed last year. Each weapon wing will be able to carry either ten Martlet or two Sea Venom missiles and generates additional lift for the helicopter in forward flight, reducing demands on the main rotor.

The twin-engine multi-role AW159 is able to conduct missions ranging from constabulary to high end warfighting where it has the capability to autonomously detect, identify and attack targets on land and at sea, including submarine threats. The high-performance platform has state-of-the-art systems, including a Leonardo Seaspray multi-mode electronically-scanning (E-scan) radar, and integrated electronic warfare Defensive Aids Suite (DAS).

Over 50,000 flight hours have been logged by the helicopter. The AW159 has also been chosen by the British Army, the Republic of Korea Navy and the Philippine Navy as a new maritime operator of the helicopter.

Cruise Missile Systems

The U.S. Navy has awarded Boeing a combined $3.1 billion in contracts for Harpoon and Standoff Land Attack Missile Expanded Response (SLAM ER) weapon systems in support of Foreign Military Sales (FMS). About $2.6 billion of that was contracted today while the remainder had been previously awarded.

Standoff Land Attack Missile Expanded Response (SLAM ER) is a combat-proven, all-weather, over-the-horizon, precision-strike missile (Boeing illustration)

«We are pleased to continue our long legacy of partnering with the U.S. Navy to build weapons that defend America and its international partners», said Cindy Gruensfelder, vice president, Boeing Weapons. «These awards will not only extend production of the Harpoon program through 2026, they will also restart the production line for SLAM ER and ensure deliveries through 2028».

Boeing last delivered the SLAM ER weapon system in 2008. In October 2019, Boeing began construction on a new 35,000 sq. feet/ 3,252 sq. meters manufacturing facility to support increased production for the Harpoon and SLAM ER programs. Construction is expected to be complete in 2021.

Harpoon Block II features an autonomous, all-weather, over-the-horizon strike capability and is an ideal weapon for both anti-ship and land-strike missions. These versatile weapons can be launched from aircraft, ships, submarines or by mobile coastal defense vehicles (Boeing illustration)

Long-Range Weapon

The U.S. Air Force announced plans to continue with Raytheon Missiles & Defense, a business of Raytheon Technologies, on the development of the Long-Range Standoff Weapon (LRSO), a strategic weapon that will replace the service’s legacy Air-Launched Cruise Missile.

U.S. Air Force selects Raytheon Missiles & Defense to develop Long-Range Standoff Weapon

«LRSO will be a critical contributor to the air-launched portion of America’s nuclear triad», said Wes Kremer, president of Raytheon Missiles and Defense. «Providing a modernized capability to the U.S. Air Force will strengthen our nation’s deterrence posture».

In 2017, the U.S. Air Force awarded Raytheon and Lockheed Martin contracts for the Technology Maturation and Risk Reduction phase of the program. The Raytheon Missiles & Defense LRSO team recently passed its preliminary design review and is on track to complete the Technology Maturation and Risk Reduction (TMRR) phase of the Defense Acquisition process by January 2022.

Contract negotiations for the engineering and manufacturing development phase, with a strong focus on schedule realism, affordability, and cost-capability trades, will start in Fiscal Year 2021. The contract award is anticipated in FY22.